The Biggest Surprises from Day 2 of the 2014 NFL Draft
The first round of the 2014 NFL draft featured more twists and turns than a Hollywood thriller, and rounds two and three provided a worthy sequel full of shocking moments and head-scratching selections. With Friday night's festivities in the books, it's time to assess the biggest surprises from Day 2 of the 2014 NFL draft.
The first eyebrow-raising pick of the night came at the top of the festivities, as the Houston Texans passed over adding a franchise quarterback in order to fortify the interior of their offensive line. That proved to be only the beginning of what was an extremely unpredictable night at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.
How were the surprises included on this list chosen?
In one case, a highly regarded player went much lower than his projections indicated. Some teams blatantly neglected adding prospects at areas of extreme need. One franchise made a stunning selection at quarterback, and other passers expected to be drafted on Day 2 slid down the board and into Day 3. And the first player selected at a particular position was not who you would have expected him to be.
Here are the biggest surprises from Day 2 of the 2014 NFL draft.
Texans Don't Select a QB
Do you see the man in the top left of the above photo, Houston Texans fans? I know that you do. He's wearing a red jersey and No. 14.
His name is Ryan Fitzpatrick. As of right now, he is your starting quarterback.
And no, that is not a good thing.
After selecting South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney with the No. 1 overall pick, the Texans were widely expected to draft a quarterback in either the second or third round. With new coach Bill O'Brien coming from an offensive background and the club having traded long-time starter Matt Schaub, it made all the sense in the world.
But it didn't happen.
The Texans made a number of solid selections (including UCLA guard Xavier Su'a-Filo with the 33rd overall selection), but failed to select a signal-caller.
There had been significant scuttlebutt that the Texans were considering trading for Patriots quarterback Ryan Mallett (whom O'Brien coached in New England in 2011), but ESPN's Adam Schefter warned against that possibility on Friday night.
So now, the Texans appear likely to choose between the quarterback pu pu platter of Alabama's AJ McCarron, LSU's Zach Mettenberger, Pittsburgh's Tom Savage and Georgia's Aaron Murray when Day 3 commences tomorrow.
As for Fitzpatrick, the presumed starter: He's thrown 51 interceptions over his last 41 starts.
It doesn't appear that general manager Rick Smith and O'Brien have a plan as it concerns the most important position in football, but perhaps they'll pull a rabbit out of their hat tomorrow.
But until that happens, their decision to pass on a quarterback on Day 2 ranks as a colossal stunner.
Browns Neglect the WR Position
To paraphrase the age-old statement: the football gods giveth, and the football gods taketh away.
On Day 1 of the 2014 NFL draft, the football gods bestowed the star-crossed city of Cleveland with the physical manifestation of hope in Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, along with the draft's best cornerback (Oklahoma State's Justin Gilbert) and extra picks in 2015 (Buffalo's first and fourth-rounder).
But just as optimism started to soar on the shores of Lake Erie, the football gods struck down with a terrible wrath, as Browns star receiver Josh Gordon is facing a season-long suspension for another failed drug test, per ESPN's T.J. Quinn.
The news is devastating for the Browns, as Gordon is one of the finest players in the league at any position. Last year, Gordon hauled in 87 catches and led the league with 1,646 receiving yards, scoring nine touchdowns in the process. He was expected to be the primary weapon in the passing attack for either Manziel or incumbent quarterback Brian Hoyer.
What ultimately surprised in the aftermath of this bombshell story was the Browns neglecting to select a wide receiver with any of their three picks on Day 2 (35th, 71st and 94th overall). Instead, they took a lineman (Nevada's Joel Bitonio), a linebacker (Iowa's Christian Kirksey) and a running back (Towson's Terrance West).
With the 35th overall pick, general manager Ray Farmer could have chose from a bevy of talented wide receivers, including USC's Marqise Lee, Penn State's Allen Robinson and Indiana's Cody Latimer. But he chose not to address the position, which definitely ranks as a curious decision.
The prevailing assumption was that the Browns would select a receiver early in the draft, and that was before the news of Gordon's impending suspension. Once that came down, it seemed like a lock.
It's definitely surprising that the Browns didn't take a receiver on Day 2.
Titans Make University of Washington's Bishop Sankey the First RB Selected
The fact that a running back wasn't selected until the 54th overall pick of the 2014 NFL draft—the farthest a draft has ever gone before a rusher was picked—didn't come as a shock. After all, the expectation was that the top running backs would fall to Day 2 and Day 3.
What did come as a surprise was the running back that was selected first: Bishop Sankey from the University of Washington, who is now a member of the Tennessee Titans.
Sankey was the fourth-rated running back by Bleacher Report's Matt Miller, and although he could sparkle as a neophyte, it's hard to believe he went ahead of Ohio State's Carlos Hyde, West Virginia's Charles Sims and Auburn's Tre Mason.
Patriots Select Eastern Illinois QB Jimmy Garoppolo
The New England Patriots hosted a number of top quarterback prospects in the weeks leading up to the draft, including Eastern Illinois' Jimmy Garoppolo.
Those visits turned out to be a harbinger of things to come, as the Patriots selected Garoppolo with the 62nd pick (2nd round).
Garoppolo became the highest-drafted quarterback by the Patriots since they selected Drew Bledsoe with the No. 1 pick in the 1993 draft. With backup Ryan Mallett entering the final year of his rookie contract and starter Tom Brady set to turn 37 in August, it made sense for coach Bill Belichick to add another young signal-caller to groom.
But the move can certainly be questioned. Despite advancing to the AFC Championship game the past three seasons (losing the last two), the Patriots are clearly behind the Denver Broncos in the AFC's pecking order. Perhaps Belichick would have been better served adding another player on defense, or perhaps a pass-catching tight end for Brady, rather than selecting a player who is likely to hold a clipboard throughout 2014.
Garoppolo will be someone to monitor moving forward, especially with Mallett's future in Foxborough appearing nebulous and Brady battling against Father Time.
Panthers Don't Take Another Wide Receiver
Last week, I wrote that the smartest move the Carolina Panthers could make in the 2014 NFL draft would be to add sufficient talent at the receiver position.
General manager Dave Gettleman took the first step towards doing that by selecting Florida State wideout Kelvin Benjamin with the 28th overall pick, but that wasn't enough. He needed to add another impact receiver on Day 2 to aid his franchise quarterback, Cam Newton.
And Gettleman failed miserably in doing so.
The Panthers instead added a defensive end (Missouri's Kony Ealy) and an offensive guard (LSU's Trai Turner), and neither pick makes a ton of sense. The Panthers are stacked on the defensive line, and the primary need along the offensive line is at tackle, not guard.
This isn't to say that Ealy and Turner can't or won't be good players; it just means that the Panthers had more pressing needs elsewhere, specifically at receiver.
Gettleman watched as many of the draft's top receivers were picked on Day 2, with Penn State's Allen Robinson (Jacksonville) and LSU's Jarvis Landry (Miami) going in the next two picks after his selection of Ealy.
The Panthers depth chart at receiver reads like Benjamin and a bunch of third and fourth options (Jerricho Cotchery, Jason Avant, Tiquan Underwood). Gettleman blew it by not taking a wide receiver on Day 2.
Notre Dame DT Louis Nix III Falls to Texans at 83rd Overall Selection
Notre Dame defensive tackle Louis Nix III was the 47th ranked overall player on the big board of Bleacher Report's Matt Miller, and was even projected by one expert (Rotoworld's Evan Silva) to go as high as 11th overall to the Tennessee Titans.
That's what made it such a surprise when Nix fall all the way to the 83rd overall pick, when he was gobbled up by the Houston Texans.
Nix struggled with knee issues last year and didn't play as well (two tackles for loss, zero sacks) as he did in 2012 (7.5 tackles for loss, two sacks), but that still doesn't explain the precipitous nature of his fall to the middle of the third round.
He is a run-stuffer and will have the opportunity to shine on a Texans defensive line that also includes star J.J. Watt and No. 1 overall pick Jadeveon Clowney, and he'll surely use the surprise of being selected 83rd overall as motivation to succeed.
Buccaneers Draft West Virginia RB Charles Sims
When assessing the team needs of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers heading into the draft, running back did not stand out as a priority.
After all, the club boasted an impressive stable of rushers last season, with the trio of Doug Martin, Mike James and Bobby Rainey all flashing at points during the campaign.
That fact made it all the more surprising that the Buccaneers opted to select West Virginia running back Charles Sims with the 69th overall pick (third round).
While Sims is a very well-regarded prospect (he was the second-ranked running back in the draft by Bleacher Report's Matt Miller), he now joins a muddled backfield chock full of talented rushers.
The Buccaneers added weapons on offense with their first two picks in Texas A&M receiver Mike Evans and Washington tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins. The expectation was that the club would add a defensive player for coach Lovie Smith with their third pick.
Because of their first two picks and the glut at the position, the selection of Sims was a quizzical one. He might end up being a big-time player, but the Bucs could easily have gone elsewhere.
Only Two Quarterbacks Are Selected on Day 2
It was widely expected that there would be a run on quarterbacks on Day 2 of the NFL draft, but surprisingly, that did not come to fruition.
There were only two quarterbacks selected in rounds two and three: Fresno State's Derek Carr by the Oakland Raiders with the 36th overall pick, and Eastern Illinois' Jimmy Garoppolo by the New England Patriots with the 62nd overall pick.
That means signal-callers such as Alabama's AJ McCarron, Georgia's Aaron Murray, Pittsburgh's Tom Savage and LSU's Zach Mettenberger remain on the board heading into Day 3, when many assumed many (if not all) would be gone by the time Friday night rolled into Saturday morning.
Heralded Prospects Remain on the Board Heading into Day 3
It happens every year: Day 2 draws to a conclusion, and we're left scratching our heads wondering how a number of excellent prospects haven't yet been drafted.
As detailed in the previous slide, it's definitely surprising that only two quarterbacks were selected on Day 2, leaving passers such as Alabama's AJ McCarron, Georgia's Aaron Murray, Pittsburgh's Tom Savage and LSU's Zach Mettenberger to wait until Saturday to learn their fates.
Also remaining are offensive linemen (Stanford's Cameron Fleming, Baylor's Cyril Richardson), wide receivers (Clemson's Martavis Bryant, South Carolina's Bruce Ellington), cornerbacks (Utah's Keith McGill, Lindenwood's Pierre Desir) and many more players of value.
Perhaps the most surprising name still remaining is Savage, who became a media darling over the past two months and theoretically skyrocketed up draft boards. But here we are with Day 2 in the books, and Savage remains on the board.
It all makes for what's sure to be a fascinating Day 3.